In a move aimed at creating a generation of lifesavers, thousands of Year 8 schoolchildren in Harrow and other targeted boroughs will receive training on life-saving skills, thanks to the launch of the London Lifesavers schools programme.
The initiative, kicked off on Re-start a Heart Day, is the largest of its kind in the capital and is led by London Ambulance Service medics.
The London Lifesavers programme focuses on teaching children essential skills such as recognising cardiac arrest, administering chest compressions to maintain blood circulation, and using a defibrillator to restart a heart.
The project’s mission is to empower children with the knowledge and confidence to respond effectively during critical moments before professional medical help arrives.
Head of First Responders, Sam Palfreyman-Jones, highlighted the importance of teaching these life-saving skills in schools, especially considering that most cardiac arrests occur within homes.
“We know that by teaching life-saving skills in schools and giving children the confidence to use a defibrillator, more lives will be saved in those crucial minutes before an ambulance arrives.
“Most cardiac arrests happen in the home, so we are telling children that by learning these simple skills, they could save someone they love.”
The initiative’s impact is evident through the story of teenager Olivia Smith, who, having learned life-saving skills in the scouts, successfully administered CPR to her step-father when he suffered a cardiac arrest at home.
Olivia’s quick thinking and training saved a life, underscoring the importance of the London Lifesavers programme.
London Ambulance Service aims to reach two schools per week and educate 80,000 children in each borough during the campaign. The selection of boroughs was based on careful analysis of cardiac arrest data, considering factors such as incidence rates, bystander CPR rates, survival rates, and defibrillator availability.
Targeted boroughs include Brent, Barking and Dagenham, Harrow, Newham, Ealing, Redbridge, and Enfield.
The program’s success lies in the hands of the community, emphasizing the significance of bystander intervention. According to LAS Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles, every second counts during a cardiac emergency, and increasing bystander intervention through CPR training and wider defibrillator accessibility is key to improving survival rates.
As part of the campaign, the London Lifesavers team conducts training not only in schools but also at public events and for businesses, charities, and community organisations. Additionally, efforts are underway to distribute thousands of defibrillators across communities, making them readily available for emergencies.
The London Lifesavers initiative, supported by the Mayor of London, officially launched at City Hall on October 16, where more than 200 pupils received training from dedicated medical professionals.